Bean There, Done That: Europe’s Best Coffee Cultures

So you think you know your latte from your lungo, do you? Know your average joe from your aromatic java? Well sure, you might know how to drink coffee on your own turf… but what about somewhere new?


Many countries in Europe will have their own particular coffee culture, each with its own particular charms – so if you’re a bit of a caffiend, you might want to do a little homework before your trip, just to be sure that you make the very most of your caffeine addiction when you’re away!


Ryanair takes coffee seriously. We know that the staff here at HQ wouldn’t get through the daily slog without it, and we know that since we began offering Lavazza on-board our flights, the coffee connoisseurs among you have been much, much happier.


But we’re going to go a step further, and help you get the best possible coffee once you’ve reached your destination as well as during your flight.


Did you know that Sweden consume more coffee per capita than Italy? It’s true. They manage to get through an average of 7.9 kilos of coffee, per person, per year, making Sweden one of the top coffee consuming nations in the world!


In Sweden, they have a thing called ‘Fika’. Fika is basically a coffee break – but it’s so much more than that, too. It’s a ritual. It’s a cornerstone of Swedish social life. It’s a national institution.


It’s an excuse to eat cake with your mates! Fika consists of coffee (obviously) or tea (if you must), with a few sweet treats on the side. The point is not so much the coffee or tea or cake, but the company.


This is about taking the time to enjoy a conversation with friends, and it’s so important that many Swedes will do it more than once a day. Experience it in Stockholm.


Flights to Stockholm


The Italians know their coffee. In Rome, drinking coffee is not as much a social occasion as it is a pit-stop. Most people drink their espresso (just called ‘un caffé’ in Italy) while standing at the bar (at the tavolo, or table, it’s a little more expensive).


If you want to have breakfast the Italian way, get yourself to a café bar and have a coffee and cornetto (Italy’s answer to a croissant).


This is the only time of day when it’s acceptable to order a milk-based coffee, so make the most of it – you might get side-eyed if you order one after 11 (but don’t worry, they are used to tourists and our milky coffee habits so you will get one)!


In Rome, you won’t really find too many people sitting in cafés sipping giant lattes while they read a novel or stare at their MacBooks. In fact, order a latte in Italy and you might end up with a glass of warm milk.


Flights to Rome


Things are a little different here. Yes, people drink coffee, but you’re more likely to see people rushing to work with a paper cup full of something hot and milky in hand, bought from an international coffee chain, than anything else.


This, I suppose, is a ‘coffee culture’ of sorts, but it’s not representative of the best of London’s coffee culture, and it’s well worth the effort to scratch the surface and seek out the city’s coffee-lover’s coffee culture.


For a real taste of London’s coffee scene, ignore the big chains and search for some of the small, independent coffee houses that have sprung up all over the place in the last 5 years.


Some say there’s been an Antipodean influence, and that the Aussies and Kiwis who take their caffeine seriously might have something to do with this. We don’t know. We don’t care. We’re just delighted about the lovingly prepared sweet, sweet caffeine… 

Flights to London


Paris’ cafés are famous, but the quality of its actual coffee is not – at least not in the way Italian coffee is revered. That’s because in Paris, it’s not so much about the coffee you drink as the people you watch and the company you have while you drink it. It’s the polar opposite of Italian coffee culture.


The whole point of French coffee culture is to draw out the experience for an hour or even two (which might explain the prices), just chatting, reading, or watching the world go by.


Cafés in Paris are generally more than ‘coffee shops’; they serve food too. As well as perfect pastries, they’ll have a fairly extensive menu of delicious Parisian food for you to stuff yourself silly with while you watch the beautiful people go by.


Flights to Paris


Of course, we can’t end this piece without a shout out to Vienna. We don’t fly directly there, but we do fly to Bratislava, around 60 minutes away by train – so here’s another reason to make a day trip to Austria’s capital.


The Viennese coffee house is the ultimate… the original… the daddy of coffee/café culture in Europe. It’s such a huge part of Viennese culture that it’s been listed by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, and is described – gorgeously – as “a place where time and space are consumed, but only coffee is found on the bill” (nice).


Traditional Viennese coffee houses were all Thonet chairs, marble-topped tables, arches, and piano music. These days, you might find them a lot more modern – often hipster-y – but the spirit is the same. Order an excellent coffee and maybe a pastry or some cake, in beautiful surroundings, and stay as long as you like – talking, reading, writing, playing cards or chess… This is what coffee was made for.

Flights to Vienna


- Dee Murray